US Coal Exports
New! Exports Economic Contributions Report

American coal is produced in 24 states and exported to a total of 76 countries. Exports flow in every direction – from Atlantic and Pacific Ocean ports, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes.

Metallurgical coal is exported for use in making steel. Steam coal is exported for use in generating electricity.

In 2012, the European Union accounted for 45 percent of U.S. coal exports by volume. (Netherlands and the United Kingdom were the two largest destinations.) China was the third largest destination, and Asia accounted for 26 percent of 2012 U.S. coal exports.

2012 U.S. Coal Exports

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration based on U.S. Census Bureau data.
Note: For top seven ports totaling 94% of U.S. exports. Due to limited volumes, South and Central America are combined.

Demand for U.S. coal has been increasing rapidly in both Europe and Asia. The rising demand is driven by new coal-fueled power plants being constructed. (More than 395 gigawatts of new coal-fueled capacity is expected online by 2016.) Steel production is also expected to grow 20 percent by 2016, requiring an additional 200 million tons per year of metallurgical coal.

U.S. Coal Export Destinations

Source: Energy Information Administration

Demand for coal is expected to grow especially rapidly in China and India, where urbanization and modernization are taking place on an unprecedented scale.

Expected Global Coal Demand

Source:  Peabody Global Analytics.

Although it is already the largest coal producer in the world by far, China is unable to meet its own demand for coal. China’s import demand is expected to continue to grow by nearly 12 percent per year for the foreseeable future.

China Coal Imports

Source: International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2011; industry reports and Peabody Analysis

India is the fastest growing coal export market, however. The country is expected to start about 75 gigawatts of new coal-fueled electricity generation over the next five years, eventually requiring an additional 250 million tons per year of steam coal. Multiple new port projects are under way in India to enable increased coal imports.

India Coal Imports

Source: Peabody Global Analytics and other industry sources. Projections assume 6% India GDP growth

  • “The President’s National Export Initiative should place greater public emphasis on the role coal exports are playing to help reach the White House’s goal of doubling U.S. exports.”
    — U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, January 7, 2014
  • “…we need to export more of our goods. Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America…We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America…We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores”
    — President Barack Obama, January 27, 2010
  • “Historically, U.S. companies seeking to expand their revenues focused first on increasing their number and share of U.S customers. For years, this focus served as a winning strategy for many of the most successful U.S. companies. Today, global economic trends make clear that successful companies are those that reach and sell to consumers outside U.S. borders and around the globe.”
    — 2011 National Export Strategy, U.S. Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee
  • “Federal regulatory agencies should not require climate change studies in the course of their permitting processes for proposed facilities. Coal will be consumed around the world regardless of U.S. trade policy. The only question is whether the coal is produced here in North America, where environmental standards are high, or elsewhere.”
    — U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, January 7, 2014
  • “At present 19% of the world’s population, 1.3 billion people, lack access to electricity and on New Policy Scenario projections there will still be 1 billion people without such access in 2030. To meet the UN Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2015, 395 million more people need access to electricity. There is a strong correlation between electrification and improvement in the United Nations’ Human Development Index.”
    — International Energy Agency, Coal Industry Advisory Board
  • “Access to electricity is strongly correlated with every measurable indicator of human development”
    — Berkeley Science Review, 2008

Count on Coal

National Mining Association

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